Being the parent of a young athlete can be a roller coaster ride of emotions. The thrill of their successes, the sting of their losses, the ebb and flow of their progress—it can all lead to a complex mix of stress, cynicism, and disappointment. While these feelings are a normal part of the journey, when left unchecked, they can start to influence our young athletes negatively. Here are the best ways to eliminate needless anxiety and other negative emotions from your experience as a sports parent.
The Problem

As a general rule, if your well-being is influenced by your kid’s sport success or failure, how do you think their well-being is?

The source of your negative emotions often lies in your own expectations. You may feel stressed if our kid doesn’t perform as you’d hoped.  You might be disappointed when you see your athlete’s talent not achieving the desired results. Worst, you might even become cynical when we perceive the sports world as unfair (you know these parents, sadly) when you so badly want it to be fair to your kid (at least). What’s crucial to remember is that your athlete is a keen observer.

They pick up on these feelings and, more often than not, internalize them, leading to additional pressure, reduced performance, and diminished self-esteem. Above all, how could they focus on what’s going on with all of that happening?

4 Tips to Get the Parent Experience Back on Track

How can you manage your emotions and consequently help your kid navigate their athletic journey with a healthier mindset?

1. Be Optimistic

Optimism is the antidote to stress and fear. It’s the belief that fuels genuine motivation in your young athlete. By demonstrating optimism, you’re showing your child that success isn’t just about the results but also about their effort, growth, and learning. It helps your athlete trust that their team—coaches, trainers, and teammates—supports them and has their best interests at heart.

2. See the Good in Others (don’t be a four letter word)

Seeing the good in others is a powerful way to combat cynicism. Rather than viewing others as threats or competition, teach your kid to appreciate their teammates’ efforts and strengths. When you cannot teach your kid, teach yourself. Your kid will learn from you. The rest of the team (and the rest of the league) are just like them, working hard towards big goals that may or may not work out. When an athlete can identify and acknowledge the good in others, they can see it in themselves too, enhancing their confidence and self-esteem.

3. Cheer for and Support Teammates

Supporting teammates is a simple, effective way to foster positivity. You might not be the most enthusiastic parent on the sidelines, that is okay. Just don’t be the one who is visibly unhappy when that kid succeeds. Ego battles kill camaraderie. Friendships also make for better mental health. Showing or reminding your kid that they’re not alone on their athletic journey will safeguard them. It really does start with you. Ask if you want the best for all the kids in the game.

4. Be Around Good People

Guide your young athlete to form relationships with those who inspire, motivate, and support them. These positive influences can help your child maintain a healthy perspective on their sports journey, reducing stress and disappointment while promoting a more optimistic outlook. To be around good people, they themselves have to learn steps 1-3. That means you have to set the example for them.


Being the parent of an elite young athlete comes with its challenges. The stress, cynicism, and disappointment you sometimes experience are natural, but they need not define your kid’s athletic journey or our parenting. A healthy sporting experience for your kids is one that requires intentional choices. Remember these tips. Put them into practice. Otherwise your kid might not get what they need out of sport. And that is not just about success. Your role isn’t just about steering them towards success—it’s about helping them grow into well-rounded individuals who DO find what they need to in sport.

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